Q & A

Tippy Amick talks about her role in training state employees.Florida’s Top Trainer Reflects on Learning, Growing, Retiring


By Kirsten Olsen

If you’ve worked in Florida state government and ever had training, chances are you know the name Tippy Amick.

Tippy, aka Dr. Sarah Amick, retired in January after more than 32 years in Florida government – much of it spent training state employees. She taught vocational rehabilitation statewide and most recently oversaw statewide training initiatives for the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS), the agency responsible for guiding all state employees. She also assisted in launching the new People First human resources system for Florida’s government.

Students say a spirited sense of humor is Amick’s signature personality trait and that her training sessions always are full of laughter.

Though Amick no longer will be a full-time state employee, she will continue to teach as an adjunct professor at Florida State University and run her own consulting business. Amick talked to Tallahassee Magazine writer Kirsten Olsen about the changes in her field over the last two decades.

TM: What have you seen change in training over the last 20 years?

TA: Classroom-based lectures have evolved into the use of more audio and visual aids, and into electronic media with the advent of the Internet. People typically love to be involved in their own learning today – a big change. Also, instructional design, curriculum planning, evaluation designs, conducting needs assessments, designing computer-based learning have all become sciences in themselves – a whole different world from even a few decades ago.

TM: What role does training have in an organization?

TA: Now we’re much more strategic. We’re sitting at the executive tables helping them figure out performance problems and what interventions people need to do their jobs better.

TM: What do you predict for the future of training?

TA: More technology and more money will go into training. Companies are figuring out how to compete globally – either your people are stagnant or they are dynamic and moving and learning and growing. So people don’t use the “training” term any more – they use “human performance improvement.”

TM: What are the big training topics today?

TA: Leadership skills, change management, communication skills, problem solving, conflict management, customer service, multicultural/diversity, emotional intelligence, attitudes, empowerment, ethics, team building and project management. What strikes me is that most of these emerging content areas are very much about the humanistic sides of work and life.

TM: What was your experience with People First?

TA: It was an enormous organizational shift from an HR-driven system to an employee and manager self-service system. I was glad to be part of a change that big.

TM: What advice would you give to people entering the training profession?

TA: Be passionate about what you do. Take risks . . . Always lead with joy in your heart and teach happily.

TM: How did you get the nickname Tippy?

TA: When I began walking, I walked on my tiptoes, so my sister nicknamed me Tippy. I love the name. Tippy is more like who I am.

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